Alois and Cierzo are the two male bearded vultures released this year in the Alps, as part of the VCF´s programme to restore the bearded vulture across Europe. In 2016 the VCF and its partners released 17 birds in Andalusia (7), Alps (6), Grands Causses (2) and Corsica (2).
The release in the Swiss Alps happened near Melchsee-Frutt, in Central Switzerland, in the end of May, and was done in partnership with our partner the Swiss Foundation Pro Bartgeier, which is responsible for the reintroduction programm in the Swiss Alps. This event, which was documented by the filmer Lucas Pitsch, was the second release at this new release site in Switzerland.
Alois and Cierzo came from the Guadalentin specialized bearded vulture captive breeding center in Andalucia, managed by the regional government. One of the birds is a descendant from an old breeding pair, which has laid, since 2008, 14 eggs, of which 11 chicks fledged – 7 of these have already been released (5 in Andalusia, 1 in Grands Causses and this year in Switzerland). This year´s nestling hatched in the incubator and has been reared by a foster pair, the parents of the second nestling released in Switzerland.
This second nestling is the first chick of a double clutch. His father was the first chick ever hatched at the breeding center Guadalentín (2002). The mother, 3 years older, laid for the first time in 2010. In 2013 this female reacted aggressive against the male and the incubation was not successful. The same situation repeated in 2014. Before the 2015 breeding season it was decided to put this pair in an aviary with visual contact with other breeding pairs. Immediately the female redirected her aggression against the neighbor pairs. The pair incubated without problems and a chick hatched. This year the whole breeding process was again completely normal and results in two chicks.
The main goal of the releases in Switzerland is to increment the genetic variability of the alpine population. Switzerland was chosen for this because of the low mortality of released birds and the high reproduction success of the reintroduced population.